The peasant boy sat dreaming of a different life where magical carriages were pulled by imaginary cars and the buildings were so high that they wore clouds as wreaths. In that life, he had found a love so true and rare that it transcended space and time. This love was powerful enough to sustain him through the everyday drudgeries and give him hope when his stepfather sought to stamp out such fruitless emotions.
His stepfather was not a cruel man but a practical one with strong beliefs. He had been saddled with a child not his own, whom he had to raise in a world that was often cruel to the unprepared. Unfortunately, this child was a dreamer and such individuals rarely fared well in the world. So the stepfather went about each day trying to teach the child to walk with both feet firmly planted on the ground. It was not an easy task, nor was he appreciated for his efforts.
The young man sat by the pond and sighed. He respected his stepfather and was thankful the man had come to love his lonely mother. He had even come to love the man. But he hated that the man could not accept him. Worse yet, his mother was convinced that her husband had the right of it, and it hurt the young man deeply, knowing that no one loved and accepted him for who he was.
A single tear of misery slid down his face to fall into the pond. As it made concentric rings in the fluid surface, the peasant boy wished for someone to love him just like in his dreams. He was a score and a year again. He should have had a wife and family by now, and yet, he sat in the meadow escaping from the chores he’d been assigned since he was a young boy. Now that he was a man, he felt that things should be different. He even had to come in when he was called. How he yearned for things to change.
“He’s here again,” growled the Right Reverend Ezekiel Simpson to his wife. “I have complained and complained to the hospital, but they say that they cannot do anything since he is not breaking any rules. I told them they could say he was loitering, but the hospital says they have no cause. They shouldn’t need cause. He’s a degenerate, and they should not protect him. I tell you, Delores, this country will end up another Sodom and Gomorrah. The land will be covered in salt, and then where will we be?”
Delores glanced at the man her husband had pointed out and inwardly sighed. Derek Princeton did not look like a degenerate as he sat quietly in one of the plastic waiting room chairs sketching on a pad precariously perched on his knee. He was dressed simply in a T-shirt and jeans. His dark, wavy hair was neatly pulled back into a thick ponytail. He wore no earrings or piercings. There were no tattoos or radical clothing that said he liked to dance outside of the line.
She had even met the man, years ago when he first became her son’s roommate in college. He was a nice, polite person, and she had been happy her son had gotten such a roommate. She had heard horror stories about the vicious fights between college roommates.
From the first moment they met, Derek and her son Tyrell had hit it off, becoming best friends overnight. Tyrell could not go five minutes in a conversation without Derek’s name popping up. So it was little surprise that they had decided to move in together in a cheaper off-campus apartment their sophomore year. No one suspected anything out of the ordinary when they both decided to stay at school in the hopes of picking up some extra credits towards possible double majors.
Then last summer, Tyrell fell from a ladder while hanging a sign at work. He’d hit his head on a plastic chair, knocking himself out. To everyone’s dismay, he had never regained consciousness. She and her husband had rushed to the campus hospital to oversee her son’s care. The hour-long drive had seemed to take forever. Derek had been there waiting. His eyes red, he informed them of Tyrell’s condition: coma.
Delores had been devastated. She had wanted to feel near her son and asked to stay in his room at their apartment. To her surprise, Derek had mumbled something about them only having a one-room apartment to save on money. Despite the oddity of it, Delores had not questioned Derek, and he offered to sleep on the couch, giving up his room and bed.
Her husband, Ezekiel, had frowned but said nothing as they spent the day filling out paperwork and consulting with doctors. Ezekiel waited until they got to the apartment late that night to divulge his suspicions. The bedroom only had one big bed, and after a little snooping, Ezekiel found enough evidence to confirm that Ty and Derek were lovers and refused to sleep in such a den of iniquity. They had fled the place, and she had wept while her husband prayed for her son’s soul. As soon as it was deemed safe, Ezekiel had Tyrell moved to a hospital nearer their home and away from Derek.